Web Site May Help Patients Adopt Healthy Behaviors, UVA Researchers Find (UVA Press Release)

June 1, 2001 by sa4fa@virginia.edu

Behavior change for better health is hard to make, especially for children. But U.Va. researchers have preliminary evidence that a well-designed Internet program combined with standard medical treatment may help families succeed in changing children’s habits for the better.

During a month-long treatment program for children with a constipation problem called encopresis, Daniel J. Cox, head of the U.Va. Center for Behavioral Medicine Research, found that help from the Internet made a big difference in the treatment’s success. The behavioral treatments that combined an interactive computer program on the Internet with standard medical management from a primary care doctor had a 90 percent success rate, Cox said. In contrast, 50 percent of the children who received only primary care overcame the condition.

As many as 2.3 percent of children experience encopresis, Cox said.